Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe that the current race relations are “generally bad,” according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.
The recent poll was conducted the day after five Dallas police officers were killed by a sniper at a peaceful protest against discrimination and police brutality.
That’s the lowest poll result since the Rodney King riots took place in 1992 (L.A. was plagued with three days of violent protest after four police officers were acquitted, despite a video capturing him brutally beating an unarmed black man).
“We are one American family,” President Obama said at Tuesday’s memorial service for the fallen Dallas officers. But it seems most of America disagrees. Current perceptions of race relations are so poor that half of black Americans and nearly half of white Americans polled were reportedly unsurprised by the attack on the officers.
Across the US, protests have been taking place since video footage of police officers fatally shooting two black men emerged.
Alton Sterling was shot and killed by policemen in Louisiana outside a convenience store and Philando Castile was killed by an officer in Minnesota in his own car. The incidences took place within a day of each other, but were unrelated — their commonality: the race of the victims and the profession of the men who pulled the trigger.
The needless deaths of these men, numerous protests, and subsequent vengeful attack on police officers have revived heated conversations about police brutality and racial profiling. The Black Lives Matter movement, which began three years ago, is back at the forefront of media attention — according to the poll, 70 percent of African Americans are sympathetic to the BLM movement, in contrast with 37 percent of white Americans.
President Obama met yesterday with activists from the movement, community leaders, and law enforcement officials in an effort to foster dialogue. He will also be holding a town hall meeting debate, which will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC (and streamed on their online channels), will focus on race relations and equality, as well as policing and justice.
The violence of last week revealed cracks in national unity, but this week, President Obama is determined that the US should heal back into one peaceful population.
“I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we’ve come against impossible odds,” he said on Tuesday.